Republican candidates now hold a seven-point lead over Democrats in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 44 percent of Likely U.S. Voters would vote for their district's Republican congressional candidate, while 37 percent would opt for his or her Democratic opponent. Support for Republicans held steady from last week, while support for Democrats dipped slightly.
Last week, the GOP had a six-point lead over Democrats, the narrowest gap between the two parties this year. That was an improvement from two weeks ago when Republicans posted a 10-point lead, a high reached only one other time since January and the party's biggest lead in the history of Rasmussen Reports polling.
In April, the number of adults not affiliated with either major party increased by 1.6 percentage points, while the number identifying themselves as Republicans decreased 1.3 percentage points. This marks the lowest level for Republicans since July 2008.
Still, 43 percent of voters not affiliated with either major party now prefer the Republican candidate, while 21 percent like the Democrat.
GOP candidates started 2010 ahead by nine points, while support for Democrats fell to its lowest level over the same period. Towards the end of 2009, Republicans enjoyed a more modest lead over Democrats, with the gap down to four points in early December.
Throughout the fall and winter of 2008, support for Democratic congressional candidates ranged from 42 percent to 47 percent. Republican support ranged from 37 percent to 41 percent. When President Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, Democrats enjoyed a seven-point advantage on the Generic Ballot.
The two parties were very close on the Generic Ballot throughout the spring of 2009, but in late June, around the same time Democrats began their campaign for health care reform, Republicans pulled ahead for good.
Just after Congress' passage of the national health care plan, voter support for both parties spiked: Democrats reached their highest level of support measured since early December 2009, while GOP support matched its highest level measured since weekly tracking began in early April 2007.
Most U.S. voters continue to believe the health care plan passed by Congress in late March will be bad for the country, and they favor its repeal.
Americans have felt little, if any, impact yet from the newly-passed plan to reform health care, and the majority of U.S. voters continue to give the current system positive ratings.
Only 18 percent of Americans are willing to pay higher taxes to lower the federal budget deficit. Most voters think the president’s new bipartisan deficit reduction commission is more likely to recommend tax increases than spending cuts to meet the growing deficit, and 78 percent expect Congress to raise taxes if the commission recommends it.
While most voters favor a new government program designed to create jobs, they still think ultimately tax cuts and decisions by private business leaders will do more good in terms of job creation.
The plurality of voters think it is at least somewhat important for Congress to pass major energy legislation aimed at reducing global warming this year - as long as it doesn’t cost them more in taxes and raise their utility bills.